Las Vegas looks to Lunar New Year Gaming capital’s hotels decked out to welcome Chinese tourists
Las Vegas, here we come! That’s what the city’s tourism industry is hoping for as it gets set to greet visitors from China to celebrate the Lunar New Year.
The city will be kicking off the Year of the Rooster on Friday, Lunar New Year’s Eve, with most festivities going through Sunday at various hotels and casinos.
“Honoring the rich culture and historical importance of Spring Festival, Las Vegas will feature symbolic décor and stunning colorful displays, wishing prosperity, health and happiness to all,” said the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority, the city’s tourism bureau
Dragon and lion dances and other performances will be put on during the weekend at The Lucky Dragon Hotel and Casino, the Cosmopolitan Las Vegas, ARIA Resort and Casino, the Palazzo Las Vegas, the Venetian, MGM Grand Hotel and Casino, the Bellagio, and the Palms Casino Resort.
The LINQ Promenade, an outdoor retail, dining, and entertainment plaza, will hold four days of performances by a Sichuan dance troupe and the local Chinese communities.
Singer and songwriter Sam Hui of Cantopop fame will be performing at the Venetian on Jan 28, and Shannon Lee, daughter of martial artist Bruce Lee, will be making an appearance.
Some hotels will be offering special Chinese food menus. At Wynn-Encore, a popular dim sun brunch will be served. It costs $68.88 and $58.88 for children 5 and younger. The prices use the number 8, which is considered lucky in Chinese culture.
The Lucky Dragon Hotel and Casino, which opened in December and was designed specifically with Chinese and other Asian guests in mind, said that its occupancy rate is expected to be up during the holiday, though he declined to disclose how many people have stayed in the hotel since it opened.
Chris Jones, marketing officer at the Clark County Department of Aviation, said Lunar New Year has long been a significant event among casinos in Las Vegas and that the emphasis from the various resorts will be on VIP clientele coming from China during the holiday. “It’s the handful of Chinese high-rollers who come here during the Chinese New Year period that really move the needle,” he said.
But those visitors are usually flown in on casinos’ private aircraft and not on commercial airliners, such as Hainan Airlines.
The carrier’s first direct flight between China and Las Vegas began operating in early December, connecting passengers from Beijing to McCarran International Airport. Though passenger tallies for the first month are not yet available, Jones said he expects a good amount of activity on the flight considering that the route is new and December is often not a peak international travel season to the US.
“We’re just in the very beginning of this process, and it’s something we’re in for the long haul. It’s phenomenal that they have the ability to fly here nonstop,” he said.
Jones said it took 18 hours for him to fly to Beijing from Las Vegas so he could be on Hainan’s maiden flight to Las Vegas. The Beijing trip included a two-hour flight to Seattle and a five-hour layover. His direct flight back to Las Vegas was 11 hours.
“It doesn’t sound like a lot, but shaving that amount of time off for the people that are coming from Beijing is absolutely huge,” he said.
Because of bilateral agreements between the US and China, there is a limit to the number of flights that can operate between the two countries going to cities called “Zone 1”—Beijing, Shanghai, and Guangzhou. Las Vegas is interested in routes for second-tier cities like Shenzhen, Chengdu, Xiamen, and Chongqing, Jones said.
“Somebody in the US, if you walk up to them to ask if you’ve ever heard of Chongqing, China, the odds are they probably would say ‘no’, but from my perspective I look at it and go, that’s a great opportunity. Chengdu has 14, 15 million people, that’s a great opportunity. You can go down the line on some of these second-tier cities in China that are bigger than most cities in the United States. Any of those would be a great opportunity,” he said.
Las Vegas’ newest resort, Lucky Dragon Hotel & Casino, is the first resort designed from the ground up to create an authentic Asian cultural experience.